It was intense: eight class sessions per day, four days in a row. All I could do between sessions was to eat, sleep, and make a quick walk around the building to catch some fresh air. Oh, yes, I had to also keep in touch with my event hosts to confirm, to cancel, to change, and to correct my future presentations. So far not one of them was deleted from my schedule, and two more added on my very first day in St. Petersburg.
Staying in a seminary dorm definitely has its advantages – it costs less than a hotel and it provides valuable contacts for future ministry. The only disadvantage is, of course, that these young men and women do not ever feel like going to bed and are willing to continue our theological conversations way past midnight. Luckily, I was teaching in two different seminaries and had a chance to catch some sleep on the overnight train between the two cities.
I also had a chance to teach two groups of teachers. The one in Hertzen Pedagogical University in St. Petersburg was the largest so far – they even had to bring in more chairs and sat in the back of the room. They were all graduate school History majors and came to my presentation in the late evening because their professor required it. She also gave them an assignment of conducting their own research on the topic of New Testament history/archeology/paleography, and writing a paper on it. I am looking forward to reviewing those essays for her and to writing my own paper on teaching the class for their academic journal.
My last presentation over this last weekend just ended. It was at the two day retreat for the Evangelical church leadership – both lay and clergy. “We have just decided on the topic of our summer youth camp. It will be Historic Foundation of Christian Faith. You have basically provided us with a ready-to-use curriculum, along with teaching methods, illustrations, media content, and handouts for the whole camp. Please come and teach this summer. But even if you won’t – we know now how to do it by ourselves,” smiled one of them at the end of our event, as she was putting a FaithSearch Discovery CD into her bag.
It seems our materials are being used more and more all over the country. I keep meeting public school teachers and church workers who have already been presenting it for years. At my teachers’ training in Zelenograd, some of the participants were there thanks to the recommendations of their colleagues who attended my training before. An Orthodox priest from the city of Dmitrov (40 miles north of Moscow) just shared with me in his E-mail: “I have been applying your materials in my classes and in my sermons all this time refreshing my memory from the CD and the video on your Web site. May the Lord bless you and your ministry!” However, I may still be going to Dmitrov to teach at the city Teachers’ Conference because their local educational department (mostly atheistic) does not want him to “teach religion.” For some reason, they invited me to present the “Historic Foundations of Christian Faith.” There are no prophets in their own land.